December 18, 2019
Here is the full text of the Preliminary Fact-Finding report conducted by Legal experts. The Text has been produced as is.
A three-member fact-finding team comprising of Adv Aman Khan (HRLN), Adv Fazal (HRLN) and Adv Fawaz Shaheen (Quill Foundation) reached AMU at around 4 in the morning on 16-12-19. We entered the campus from the University Circle side through the main university gate Bab-e-Syed. The first sight which greeted us was a massive contingent of armed forces, comprising mainly of RAF but also including local police, spread in large groups right from university circle and Bab-e-Syed to chungi gate. The right side gate of Bab-e-Syed was lying to one side (we saw it being welded back together when we were leaving later in the evening) and there were barricades at every intersection inside the campus. Quite strangely, a small tractor was picking up bikes parked around the university and throwing them onto a truck parked in front of the Maulana Azad Library, on the main university road. (the vehicles belonged to students, which were vandalised by armed forces during their aggravated violence)
We had detailed open-ended conversations with a number of students in their hostels (individual and groups), victims admitted in the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMCH) and their attendants, student leaders, admin staff at the medical college, university security guards and faculty administrators of two residential halls. Most people we spoke to were apprehensive of speaking on the record for fear of reprisals, both at the hands of the university as well as the district administration. Therefore, we have decided not to reveal any names in this brief report. What follows is a brief reconstruction of the events through the narratives gathered in our conversation that seems to have taken place in the fateful intervening night of 15th and 16th December 2019.
Summary of incidents
At around 7:30 pm on 15-12-2019 students in AMU started gathering at the Library Canteen to continue their peaceful protest against the CAA. A peaceful procession of students chanting started moving along the university road towards the main gate Bab-e-Syed, which is the ordinary spot of protest in the University. A heavy contingent of local police and Rapid Action Force was deployed at the University Circle who started moving towards Bab-e-Syed when they saw the procession at the gate. The heavily armed forces reportedly started abusing students trying to provoke them towards violence. One of the common provocative abuse from armed forces was “bahar aao madarch***”. At around 8 pm the police and RAF armed forces started firing tear gas shells, rubber bullets, stun grenades, pellets and other kinds of explosive weapons into the crowd inside the gate. According to a few accounts they were even pelting stones at the crowd. The students were pushed back and fearing for their safety, they started hiding in nearby buildings such as Guest house no.2 and 3. The situation did not demand any further intervention as the protest had dispersed and students were hiding in buildings. However, at around 10 PM, the police and armed forces started to break the iron gate of Bab-e-Syed.
After entering the university gate, armed forces started brutal lathi-charge accompanied with massive amounts of firing of tear gas shells, rubber bullets and pellets. According to all the students interviewed who were present at the site (mostly hiding in nearby buildings), even after the first round of lathi charge and firing of massive amounts of tear gas, rubber bullets and pellets, the unarmed students along with Proctor kept demanding the armed forces to step outside university campus. However, the armed forces started entering into the nearby buildings where the students were hiding. The nearby buildings such as Guest house no. 2 and 3 along with the mosques were raided by police and RAF and all the unarmed students (estimated 12-15) were heavily lathi-charged. The buildings were also bombarded with tear gas shelling which led to suffocation and unconsciousness of several students. The students trying to save themselves from the effect of tear gas tried to throw the shelling away. The police and RAF were using deceptive shelling which would blow up the hands of students when picked up. One student blew up his hand in process and was admitted to ICU ward in JNMC where his hand was amputated. Students we spoke to in different halls of residence reported being in touch with them till about 11-11:30, at which point they were taken and detained by the police.
The police and RAF then moved towards the boys hostels on Aftab Hall road where armed forces fired indiscriminate tear gases. They particularly targeted Sir Syed North Hostel and fired stun grenades and tear gases over its closed gates. Another surprising yet horrific act by the armed forces was vandalizing the bikes and other vehicles belonging to students who had left them on parked on road.
The clearest evidence of disproportionate and extraordinary use of force with malafide intent by the police can be found from the incidence that took place at room no. 46 of Morrison Court hostel. The hostel included many students who were not even part of the protests. One crucial notable incident took place in Morrison Court hostel where armed forces forcefully entered by brutally thrashing the gate guard (later admitted) and then firing the tear gases. Shockingly, the armed forces then cut the window fence of Room no. 46, shattered glass window and fired tear gas in the room from point blank range. As a result, room caught fire and the three students who were in the room but not even part of protest came out in semi conscious stage. Armed forces then brutally assaulted those students and one Syed Mohammad Mehdi Rizvi is missing since then. (Brother of Mehdi Rizvi was later circulating appeal pamphlets seeking help).The two other students remain unidentified.
In total, the team could estimate that around 60 students suffered varying degree of injuries and trauma and had to run to the emergency including three who were in critical medical condition and remained in the ICU. The three critically injured students included (1) a student whose right hand had to be amputated because an unidentified explosive similar to a tear-gas grenade exploded in his hand, (2) a student who was suffering repeated seizures due to being hit on the head with a lathi and (3) a student who was shot by a rubber bullet in the head.
The rest of the students were given first aid and sent back to their rooms. Among these were many who were actually suffering from serious injuries but were sent back from the hospital merely because the injuries weren’t life-threatening. The team met a few of these students, including one who had a relatively similar injury caused by an explosive, and one whose leg was severely hurt due to stone-pelting by the police. The hospital authorities refused to share with us any exact numbers or details, and the students only spoke to us on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. There was a particularly widespread fear that anyone who speaks up will be charged under NSA.
A large number of students were found to be missing or suspected to be detained. However, neither the university nor the district administration gave any details regarding missing or detained students. The team was given scattered information regarding missing or detained students by their friends and hostel mates. We also received unconfirmed reports that 22-25 injured students were detained at Malkhan Singh hospital in the Rasal Ganj area of Aligarh. By afternoon the team also received unconfirmed reports that the detainees had been taken to 4 different police stations, including Civil Lines, Gandhi Park, Khair and Tappal. Overall, a situation of anxiety and suspicion prevailed all over the campus regarding the missing students, along with apprehensions of their being victim of untoward incidents. Given below at the end of the report is a tentative list of names currently reported to the team. However, it must be reiterated that the list is by no means comprehensive and many more students are suspected missing or detained.
Pressure to vacate campus
On 16-12-19 the university administration announced winter vacations with immediate effect. By afternoon, officials from the university were strongly urging students to vacate their hostels, which is contrary to general practice during vacations at AMU. Pressure from the university coupled with the environment of fear created by brutal police action the previous night has resulted in a virtual exodus of students from the campus by late afternoon/evening.
The entire incident is a shocking display of police brutality and impunity in the face of peaceful democratic protests by AMU students. The police actions seem not only brutal but also vindictive motivated by a desire to ‘show students their place’. All witnesses we spoke to recalled the police was hurling insults and abuses of a rabidly communal nature at the students and the university at large. These communal abuses were being shouted even before they lathi-charged the protest, and only intensified as they moved further into the university, targeting individual students with their lathis, tear gas shells, rubber bullets and pellets. At the first instance, it seems clear that the large scale violence carried out by the police and RAF forces was excessive, brutal and completely disproportionate to the stated objective of breaking up a protest. And the culpability for this large scale violence against peaceful students lies with the police and RAF as well as the university administration which allowed them in. The actions of the police in particular violate all norms and standards of conduct in dealing with students democratic right to freedom of expression and association, and with the basic right to demand for rights.
List of Students Reportedly Missing/Detained
The following is a list of students reportedly missing since the night of 15-12-2019. The following list has been compiled based on reports from friends and hostel mates who reached out to us. Most of these students are assumed to have been detained, but there is no means any certainty. It must also be noted that the list is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive.
|1||Syed Mohammed Mehdi Rizvi + 2 unidentified students||MSc. Statistics / Morrison Court||His room (46 Morrison Court) was set on fire by police action and all three students in the room were beaten up detained. No subsequent news.|
|2||Mohammed AaquibS/o Intazar Ahmad Siddique,||B.Lib / Macdonnell, Resident of Room No. 13, Aftab Hall|
|3||Gulzar||M.Tech Civil Engineering||Unconfirmed reports that he was detained at Malkhan Singh hospital, Rasal Ganj|
|4||Zeeshan||Went to find his bike and did not return.|
|5||Abdul Mannan||Last seen hiding in washroom of Guest House no.2|
|6||Abdul Rehman s/o MS SiddiquiPh: 8533935902||BA 3rd yr||Unconfirmed reports that he is detained in Civil Lines thana|
|7||Junaid Amir r/o Bareily||VM Hall||Confirmed to be in Banna Devi thana Aligarh|
|8||Tariq Alam||B.A. Economics 2nd yr / MM Hall|
|9||Shahbaz Alam r/o Kishanganj||16 yr child who had come to prepare for 11th entrance exams and was staying with a relative|
|12||Mohammad Adil r/o Bijnor||BA (Arabic) 2nd yr / SS North|
|13||Raza Azhari r/o Mubarakpur, Azamgarh||PhD Persian 2nd yr / Morrison Court|
|14||Abdul Mabood s/o Abdullah||B.Tech 3rd yr (chemical)|
|15||Mohd Junaid Ameer s/o Jalees Ahmed||BA 3rd / VM Hall|
|16||Abdul Munam s/o Abdul Mabood, age – 23||BTech||Confirmed to be in Banna Devi PS|
|17||Shahid Hussain||History Dept / Morrison Court|
|18.||Tazeem||B.R Ambedkar Hostel|
|19.||Asjad||2nd year, BA LLB (Hons)|
|20||Arshi, r/o Lucknow||Confirmed to be in Banna Devi PS|
|21||Ashutosh||MM Hall||Confirmed to be in Banna Devi PS|
|22||Employee of AMU Electricity Department + 1 more detainee whose name could not be confirmed||Confirmed to be in Banna Devi PS|